Ballarat's rapid population growth means more Catholic schools are likely to be built in the medium term according to Tom Sexton, the new executive director of Catholic education in the Ballarat diocese.
"With Ballarat forecast to grow around 40,000 people by 2036, obviously there needs to be more Catholic schools to cater for that growth in population, which is something we are working on ... and is a high priority," he said.
"We try to be proactive in finding land the right size and in the right place and when we can find that we would be looking to purchase so we can cater for that growth."
Mr Sexton said the need was greatest at secondary school level, but some primary schools were also nearing capacity.
Loreto College announced earlier this year it had purchased a large parcel of land at Lucas to build another campus.
Since taking on the new role on August 17, Mr Sexton has visited about 30 of the 64 Catholic schools in the Ballarat diocese which takes in all of western Victoria and has a student population of around 18,500.
"It was an unusual time to take on any job, particularly this job because for first six or seven weeks I was office-bound with the pandemic and it was very difficult to meet people in person," he said.
"But since the start of term four I've been able to visit schools which is the best part of the job, to go to school meet staff and students."
He aims to have visited all 64 schools in the diocese before the end of term.
The job has allowed Mr Sexton to return to Ballarat, having graduated from teachers college at Aquinas College (now ACU) in 1983.
For most of his career he has been in the neighbouring diocese of Sandhurst where he was a principal for 13 years and assistant director of education for 11 years.
Mr Sexton said he admired students, teachers and parents for their work during 2020.
"I'm inspired to read and see and talk to people about the various things different schools done to help families cope. One of the strengths of our diocese is the partnership between school and family."
IN OTHER NEWS
While the numbers of people actually going to church across all denominations is falling, demand continues to rise for Catholic education.
Mr Sexton said Ballarat's Catholic schools, along with others across the country, were working hard to marry traditional Catholic faith and traditions with current world circumstances.
"The world has changed significantly in the last 20 years so people who come in to our schools will see they have changed too."
Building strong ties with local community and organisations would continue to be a priority.